As the annual census of estuarine crocodiles is set to begin, the Bhitarkanika National Park in Kendrapada district would remain out of bounds for visitors for nine days from Friday. The restriction would be imposed from January 15 to 23 to ensure a smooth and human interference-free census operation. The headcount drive would be conducted under the supervision of teams of wildlife personnel.
As many as 22 teams have been formed to count the reptiles in the creeks, nullahs and rivers within the park and its ndjacent areas. “Ban on tourists’ entry is imposed as any form of human activity would come in the way of the census, said Bhitarkanika Mangrove (Wildlife) Forest Division Divisional Forest Officer Bikash Ranjan Dash. Sources said the national park houses 70 per cent of India’s estuarine or saltwater crocodiles, conservation of which was started in 1975. The number of saltwater crocodiles, the species which are not found in any other river system in Odisha, as per the latest census, in Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary is estimated to be 1,757.